Me & Izzy in a vast sea of lavender, on the Plateau de Valensole, very near her birthplace
Read my new InFocus Profile: David Mayes InFocus Profile
My personal odyssey may not interest some, as so many books and films have done an excellent job of capturing the whirlwind of my generation and the 1960’s. Some of those efforts come from perspectives that capture only a small slice and omit the full evolution of multiple threads over half a lifetime since that time. Those threads for me are extraordinary: from naive southern California adolescent surfer, to counter-cultural Oxford grad student and political geek, to environmental activist, then “bleeding edge” high-tech marketing executive, traveling the globe, living abroad, and finally back again to environmentalism and academics.
There are probably complex personal issues in my life that could have paid for a psychologist’s childrens’ Ivy League educations. Instead, I have tried to work it out on my own. I am finally very happy and settled, after failed marriages, most likely due to residual issues with my first love. I am happily married to a woman from the south of France who saw something in me, and took a huge risk on me. The probability of such a thing is extremely low. She is truly my best friend and partner. It came almost too late, and I know it. Isabelle’s home and the home of my family in France are less than 100 km apart. I am now a citizen of France, and there are undoubtedly also deep connections to my maternal grandparents and their French heritage, my determination not to be stereotypically normal, and to be an American expatriate.
Now, in some ways, I have come full circle. I have been invited to join a prestigious university faculty to share my experience in high-tech and international business. It feels very comfortable and satisfying. Working with bright people feels like working at Intel again. The prospect of possibly closing out my life with Isabelle in a remote Provencal villa also appeals to me, taking pot shots at American politics, and climate change deniers.
My decision to tell my story is an attempt to chronicle these multiple and interrelated threads, hopefully relevant to many, and cathartic for me. I will find out if I have bitten off more than I can chew.